Strengthening end of life care amongst whānau

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A new study from the University of Auckland is looking at traditional end-of-life Māori care customs that families draw on to strengthen their end-of-life caregiving activities and support palliative care services. New Zealand's leading palliative care researcher Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell from the university's School of Nursing says this will have benefits for family carers, iwi and the health and palliative care sectors.

Unsatisfied with health services, Jonine Nepia (Bobby Moana) chose to provide 24-hour care for her mother who suffered from dementia. She says, “I wanted her to be looked after at the best care that she could possibly get and that was with me.”

Partner Brent Henare says, “We were the best people to look after mum, my mate was the best person to look after mum and me to support her.”

Jonine Nepia and Brent Henare are sharing their experience to contribute to an investigation of Māori families' end-of-life cultural care customs.

Funded the Health Research Council of New Zealand the study will receive $1.2 million dollars and will run for three years. Lead researcher Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell says, “Pae Herenga is a study that will gather information about the things whānau do to support someone at the end of their life.”

Jonine Nepia explains, “Why we wanted to do it was to show whānau or even empower that whānau that it's okay to bring our people home we can do it as Māori we can do it as whānau.”

20 Māori rongoā and spiritual practitioners, 20 Māori palliative care providers and 20 families will be interviewed. Dr Moeke-Maxwell says Māori are more likely to die with palliative care needs than the NZ European population.

Dr Moeke-Maxwell says, “Yes we have hospices and they're fabulous and when our whānau access them they normally find they get really good care but our kaumātua don't often get there they don't get to benefit from those services.”

The study will produce resources about care customs with diverse Māori families, their communities, and the palliative care sector.